Boeing Protest Upheld

GAO upholds Boeing Air Force tanker protest

Congressional investigators have upheld Boeing’s protest of a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. and Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., and recommended that the service hold a new competition.

The Government Accountability Office said Wednesday that it found –a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman.”

As I’ve said many times previously, if all things are equal (or even close) Boeing should get the contract.

As I’ve also said many times previously, I don’t know if we’ll ever get a new tanker.


  1. I guess I missed this error that was exposed last week:

    The Air Force this week admitted it miscalculated the life-cycle costs of operating Boeing’s refueling tanker by at least $36 million per aircraft and that it awarded the contract to the more expensive proposal for an Airbus tanker. The recent increase in fuel prices makes the cost difference between operating the two aircraft even larger. – Fox News

  2. If you don’t agree with the Air Force’s picking the Airbus, you’re ‘a nutcase’ according to the Governor of Alabama. He’d know:

    Alabama Governor Bob Riley was in an editorial board meeting at Bloomberg headquarters in New York when he learned of the news, which will create further delay in Northrop’s plans to build the tankers in his state and create at least 1,500 jobs. ‘Oh, God, that’s not good,’ said Riley, a Republican serving his second term. Earlier, he said it would take ‘an absolute nutcase’ to prefer the Boeing bid over Northrop’s. – Fox News

  3. This is probably a stupid question: Could it make sense to split the orders between Boeing and Airbus, just as we had both the KC-135 and the KC-10? I mean, just to make sure that there will be a decison and at least a few tankers will be built in the first half of this century?

  4. Yeah sure let’s delay getting a new tanker even more, that’s the incredabily smart move that will greatly help our warfighters.

  5. Damn! I only checked the comments on this story to see what Dfens had to say. I must say, I’m in awe of the very restrained and factually correct observations above! To be honest…………..I thought quite a few people were getting WAY too lathered up over the Grumman award. This airplane…….that airplane…….as long as we quit messing about and just buy the damned things. Boeing bitchin’ after all the contract awards they’ve had is just golden child sour grapes. Any capable aircraft is better than no capable aircraft……right? I have to admit my who cares attitude has received a just come uppance with the revelations now coming out about this…….that certainly support much of what Dfens (and many others) has previously stated about this deal. Damn it! I know you’re smiling!! 🙂

  6. The miscalculation of $36M per aircraft seems HUGE. I would like to know if this was an innocent mistake or deliberate. If it’s the former, the pinhead responsible should be fired. If the latter, he should be thrown in jail.

  7. As one who has made many posts in favor of Boeing, I have to say that is mighty big of you flanker.

  8. While it is Boeing’s fault for some of the delay in procuring these tankers, certainly that fiasco with Darlene Druyun was Boeing’s fault, this last bit was all the US government’s doing. I think at least two people responsible for this latest fiasco have been fired, General Moseley and Secretary Wynne. Their accomplice has been nominated by the Republican Party to run for the office of President of the United States of America. Last time around if you wanted to vote for a traitor was the Democrat Senator John Kerry. At least McCain hasn’t done anything in public as bad as betraying his fellow soldiers in the field by calling them ‘war criminals’, if that’s any consolation for those of you who just can’t get enough of the Republicans. I personally have had enough. In deference to Boeing, they never seemed to have any significant ethical problems until they merged with McDonald-Douglas who has had more than their share of problems over the decades. I know some who claim the downfall of the Douglas Aircraft Company was their merger with McDonald, which is the true evil seed (so to speak). When you look at all the great aircraft that bear the DC designation, from the DC-3 to the DC-9, and then you recall what a fiasco the DC-10/MD-11 was, it makes you wonder if there isn’t some truth to that allegation. Ok, is that controvertial enough for you, Flanker?

  9. By the way, Airbus will have another opportunity to sell us their A330 tanker in about a decade when the KC-10s start running out of life. That seems like a much more realistic opportunity for that particular class of airplane anyway. I’ll still be hoping that the USAF gets smart by then and decides to go with a bomber/tanker competition by then, but that seems unlikely.

  10. I’d like to go on record as saying that we are an absolute nutcase if we choose the Airbus contract. Just to be safe though, I’d also like to say that we are an absolute nutcase if we choose the Boeing contract. There. All bases covered.

  11. BTW……………speaking of Mosely and Wynne getting the ax (and rightly so), there’s an excellent article in the June ’08 edition of the Armed Forces Journal, by Ltc. Robert Bateman titled ‘Cause for Relief’. What with journalistic lead times and all, it’s obvious the article was written before the Mosley and Wynne ‘resignations’, but it’s a well researched article on the firings, forced resignations, and relief during combat of seniro American Commanders from the Civil War to the present……….more specifically the almost total lack of such since WWII, and the corresponding lack of accountability.

  12. I have this crazy idea. Maybe the AF should evaluate the 2 proposals and choose the best one based on performance and costs vs. benefits. No bribes, no lobbyists, no protectionism. I know, crazy.

  13. I don’t think there should be no protectionism. I agree with Murdoc’s statement, if they’re close you go with the domestic product. That seems reasonable to me. In the past we have bought airplanes such as the Canberra and Harrier where there was no domestic product that was close. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with the notion that because US contractors have screwed over the US taxpayer, in the past and present, the US should turn their back on domestic defense suppliers and buy foreign products. Frankly, I side with the US defense contractors on that one. If you didn’t want us to screw you over, you shouldn’t have paid us more to screw you over. You’re not going to get any better, and will probably get worse from foreign suppliers, and the people who will suffer from the layoffs in the domestic defense industry will be the ones who have done their best to make a bad system work. It won’t be the big shots at the top who get the pink slips. It will be the people without the golden parachute who will suffer.